Patra's Other Place

I started out with Patra's Place, primarily dedicated to my linen collection and stitching projects. But I kept getting side-tracked, so I decided to create Patra's Other Place for anything not related to embroidery topics. So you now have a choice. If you are interested in me, read this. If you only want to see my linen and stitching, visit Patra's (original) Place! (Please note that by clicking on any of the photos, they will be enlarged to fill your computer screen.)

My Photo
Location: Melbourne, Vic., Australia

I am married to Ken. We have no children except two cats and a collection of finches, canaries and Rhode Island bantam hens.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Silly Season is in full swing again!

Some years nothing happens at all around here, it was just the two of us having quiet times at home.  This year is our standards, anyway.  It started out with the two birthday parties on the last weekend in November, that I posted about on this blog earlier.  Last week I was at the Embroiderers Guild on Tuesday for my last volunteer stint for the year, Thursday I was at Montsalvat for lunch, and Friday I visited a friend for some paper craft fun.  The weekend was pretty quiet mostly because the weather was crap, and we had a choice of going out, but decided to stay home instead.

Yesterday (Monday) I sewed furiously all day to try and finish some Xmas pressies that have been promised to friends. Today I had a friend over for afternoon tea and we exchanged gifts which was nice.  Tomorrow will be spent shopping, putting Xmas decorations up (not many, but enough to keep me occupied for a good hour or so), and finishing off the quilted runner gifts. After tea we will be going to the Avic.society Xmas break up party.   Thursday we are having two of Ken's cousins here for lunch.  Friday I'm having my hair cut in the morning, and we are having a cocktail party at 6.30 so I have a bit to do to prepare for that.  The occasion is to christen the new chook house.  At this stage there will be 8 people, but depending on who is available, there might be more.  Originally it was just cocktails and nibbles, but I now think it would be prudent to invite guests to stay on for some dinner as after a few drinks, they might not want to be driving home immediately!  I was planning on pizza takeaway, but am now thinking of cooking up a heap of chicken pieces in advance (do you think that will offend the chooks?), and having them with salad, bread, and fresh fruit platters.

There is nothing in the diary for the weekend, but the Eltham Farmers Market is open on Sunday morning, so I might head there to stock up on fresh fruit and vegies.  The following  Tuesday night we will be out to dinner with the Vintage Japanese motorcycle club, and Thursday is Ken's 72 birthday, and we are going out to dinner with his sister, her hubby, and some close friends.  A week later it will be Xmas, a week after that New Year, and a week after that our 36th wedding anniversary!  And all over for another year...phew!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Chook house grand opening date confirmed.

After a week of nagging from a couple of my friends who are only looking for an excuse to hold a cocktail party, I have decided on the official opening date. Next Friday at 6.30 pm, allowing said friends to get home from work and get over here. We are going to have cocktails and nibbles and if anyone wishes to stay on for tea, I'll send out for pizza. I had decided on a name for the chook house, and have started designing the sign to be painted, but some friends dropped in today to have a look and on hearing the names that have already been suggested, he put in a new one: "Ken's Hens" Love it!! I had already thought of using "The Wilson Chicks" on the sign as a sub title, but Ken's Hens sounds much better!

 It has been a busy few weeks for me with lots of photos taken but as they are on my tablet, I'm not sure how to transfer them to my desktop computer so I can post them on to my blog. I think I can post them directly to the blog from the tablet, but it is messy (for me anyway) and I'd rather not waste time on doing that. I went to Montsalvat for lunch with a friend last week. I'd been to the cafe and gallery a few times in the past year or so, but never had the time to have a good look around. Ken and I went there when we first moved to Eltham 35 years ago, and we didn't think much of it at all, as it was really run down and grubby looking. But since then there have been a lot of changes in managers and funding, and today it is a wonderful place to visit. Fourteen acres of land with building dotted around - chapel, halls, galleries, studios, artists residences. Stunning views from the grounds, as well as vegetable gardens and other items that made the commune self sustaining in its early years. We spent two hours wandering around and I took about 20 photos using my tablet, but I haven't figured out how to post them here. The previous weekend we went out for dinner at the Diamond Creek Tavern for Louise's birthday on Saturday night, then on Sunday we joined Sandra for her birthday at the Studley Park Boathouse.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Finished chook house, with bunting to announce Grand Opening!   Still got a sign to paint, but we can't make up our minds what to call it.  Lots of good names on the internet: Cluckingham Palace, BuckingHEN Palace, Chook Manor, KFC Halfway House, Fowlty Towers, The Colonel's (Sanders) Castle, The Rooster's Residence and Hen House, and so on..

The Bed room aka chicken coop.  On the right is the nest box which can be accessed from the front for us to take the eggs, instead of having to go inside the pen to get them.

Taken from behind the coop, showing the top of the pen, which lets the light and rain in as well as protecting the chooks from any predators.  Lots of straw and rocks for them to scratch around and find insects.

I made the bunting from scraps of chicken themed fabrics.

You can see how big the chook house is in comparison to the finch aviaries over in the corner of the yard.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Major addition to our back yard.

We have been talking for a few years about having a separate pen for our chooks, and we've had many quotes, both verbal and written, most of them about $1000.  But we ended up choosing a local man who specialises in building custom chooks houses and pens to suit individual backyards.  We found him online and after looking at the gallery on his website and seeing what he has done, we decided that he would be the best one to do the job, even if he is $3000 more expensive than anyone else!

Here is the top end of our back yard.  By top end, I mean the very back of it, which is the highest point on our sloping block of land. These were taken two days ago before Greg started work on the chook house.
The photo below looking up at the existing aviaries was taken standing behind the house which is on a much lower level as you can see.

Nothing, absolutely NOTHING grows in this dust bowl.  The slim tree trunk in the middle of the picture is a loquat tree that should have grown twice this size in the 40 years that it has been here, but the poor soil has kept it from growing faster.  There are a couple of native grass shrubs further along, which survive just about anywhere.

Looking at the same patch from the other end, toward the aviaries.

Greg and Craig started work on Wednesday, preparing the posts and groundwork for the pen.  They constructed the frames at their workshop and brought them here on the back of his truck.

Today, they finished erecting the frames, and added the wire over the top of the complete pen.
 The section in the middle will be the chook house, with a metal roof, and wood panels on all sides except the east which will have wire panels to let in morning daylight.  The door will be at the back (north side), and the nest box will be facing the yard, so we can take the eggs without having to go inside the pen.

Ralph and his girls inspecting the ground work. "Is this all going to be OUR place? - Wow!"

Ken checking the enclosure out with the chooks having lost interest and gone to grassier pastures!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Nostalgic trip for Ken.

Ken has never forgotten being taken on picnics with his family as an 8 year old boy, with his little sister.  They often went to New Gisborne which is about an hour's drive from Melbourne these days, but 60 years ago it would have taken a lot longer, with no free ways and many unmade roads.  The picnic ground they used to go to is still there, and today we drove up there, as Ken wanted to try and find an old house he remembered playing in as a child.
It was a perfect day for a drive into the country.  We stopped at the Gisborne township for lunch - chips for him and French toast for me.
Further along the street I found a shoe shop that was selling the same shoes that I recently bought in Eltham, but for $10 cheaper!  So I bought another two pairs - they are so comfortable, and as I was already wearing red clothes, I left the red shoes on all day, and I could have kept them on indefinitely!

 After that nice little interlude, we drove out of Gisborne and found the park that Ken's family used to visit all those years ago.

Here is Ken walking along the road, immersed in his memories. He learned to ride a bicycle here, and saw his very first platypus in the creek.
We drove for miles along these roads, seeing no other cars and very few houses.  It was so quiet and peaceful.  Every so often we would stop and I'd take a couple of photos, like these, which don't do the views justice.

 I leaned on this gate to have my photo taken, and Ken was going to pose for me, leaning against the fence adjoining it, but....
He only got a small zap, but I got a bigger fright, wondering if his ICD (defibrillator) would react!  He seems okay, but it will be interesting to see if anything shows up next time he goes to the Austin hospital for his regular check up!
He couldn't find the house he was looking for, so we went back to Gisborne and checked out their library.  We were introduced to the ladies of the local historical society, who were very interested to hear about Ken's childhood experiences.  They sent us around the corner to the local newspaper office where there were three more people who knew even more about the local history, and they knew the house that Ken was talking about.  It was actually the first house built in that area, in 1864, and several generations of the original family lived there, but as the older family members died and the younger ones moved away, the house was left to rot, and was eventually demolished and the land sold.   When Ken first saw it, it was empty, but still in good condition, but on subsequent visits, he remembers seeing it vandalised and falling down, and that was why he was keen to find out the story behind it.

Gisborne is just one of many little country towns around Victoria that has a lot of history attached to it.  I know what Australians call history is laughable compared to England, Europe and Asian countries, but it's our history and we are proud of it!
This court house was built in 1856 and is well preserved, as is the little bluestone jail behind it.

We are planning to make the most of Melbourne's glorious spring days and go on more of these day trips.  One of the best things about being retired!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Healesville Sanctuary.

Ken and I spent today at Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary.   We went there today for two reasons, the main one being it was the annual Avicultural Society picnic, and we get a few privileges such as seeing 'behind the scenes' with endangered species, how they prepare food for all the creatures at the Sanctuary, etc.

 The weather turned out glorious, and we were lucky to see a lot of birds that are usually elusive.  The Orange Bellied Parrot and the Helmeted Honey Eater would both be close to extinction without the breeding programs set up by the Sanctuary, and we saw both birds today, which was a real buzz.  Those little birds probably wonder what the fuss is about, they just fly about and enjoy life in their protected habitat…

The koalas are always popular even when they are asleep with their back to the tourists.  But the joey in the second photo was a bonus; he'd only been out of his mother's pouch for a few days, and is so cute!  Until today, I've never seen a baby koala at this age.

This is the Helmeted Honey Eater, the bird emblem of Victoria.  There are only about 60 of these left in the wild.  

The Orange Bellied Parrot is smaller than what I expected, considering that it's annual migration is across Bass Strait to Tasmania.  It is estimated there are about 70 birds that migrate now.

 This is one of the food preparation rooms.  So much variety of fruit, vegetables, seeds, fish and maggots.

The Raptor arena - full of spectators waiting for the daily display.

The eagle landed on the arm of the handler, who was standing right behind us.  I was lucky to get this photo, as birds in flight are amazingly fast, and the eagle settled there for just a few seconds before taking off again.

Male lyrebird disappearing into his bushy aviary.

Red tailed black cockatoo on the arm of a volunteer.  This one had been born and raised at the Sanctuary, so is used to humans.

Young King Parrot perched on Ken's hand, eating the seed in his hand.
 We also visited the Reptile enclosure.  Lots of snakes and lizards..

Brolga in the creek.

I got a lot of photos which look perfect on the camera, but they have turned out pixilated on the computer, it is really annoying.  I don’t know how to fix it, but I know it can be done because I googled it, and saw instructions (which are gobbledy gook to me).  

Work done in our back yard.

We have two sets of steps from the back door to the upper level of our back yard, where the bird aviaries are.  Up till now the steps have been gravel topped, which was slippery at the best of times, so we decided to have them paved, as well as having a paved path in front of the aviaries, as that used to get very muddy in wet weather.
The guy that we hired to do the job ordered way too many paving stones, but he used the extra to replace the old pavers under the clothesline, which were unstable after years of ants nests underneath them.  It has made a big difference, so although I was annoyed at the extra expense incurred at the time, I had to admit it was worthwhile doing.
This photo was taken before the paved path:

And this one is after.  There is still some sand on the surface and it will look better once I've swept the path.

This is one side of the yard now paved.  (The photos are pixilated, sorry)
 And this is the other.

The other thing we've added to the house is this little verandah over the back door step.  Ken has been wanting this for years, although it never worried me, as this is the east side of the house and doesn't get as much rain hammering it as the west side.  But Ken found someone to do it, so he now has his back "porch"..

Saturday, October 04, 2014


Well, it surprised me to get a few emails and queries from people who have read this blog, asking why they couldn't find it any more (I had changed the settings to private blog with no access).  So I have changed it again, but only allowing access to readers who have a account.   And I have to warn you that I still won't be posting as much as I used to.  I'd like to, but it takes up so much time, adding photos to a blog, writing descriptions, writing lengthy posts about life in general and so on, I just want to spend more time on sewing and other craft stuff; reading more books, and getting to bed at a reasonable time instead of after 3am!  So, I'll be back here with some photos of our newly paved back yard, and places we've been recently that might interest some of you.

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